Congress has already appropriated a record amount of federal government funding since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but President Joe Biden is asking for tens of billions more in emergency funding as the end of the fiscal year approaches.
According to reports, several billion dollars are designated for the administration’s plans to assist in the resettlement of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees as well as other programs related to the recent U.S. troop withdrawal.
“Multifaceted historic mission”
The president’s request came in the form of a so-called continuing resolution package that also included requests for additional funding for a range of federal agencies and departments.
A 34-page document included various programs ostensibly in danger of running out of appropriated funding prior to legislative approval of formal appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year.
One item near the end of the continuing resolution request was titled “Afghan Resettlement Requirements” and listed all of the federal programs in need of additional funds for that purpose. The Biden administration described a “multifaceted historic mission” to save thousands of Afghans from Taliban oppression and sought about $6.4 billion.
The largest individual request appeared to be $2.1 billion for the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development for costs associated with refugee evacuations.
Another $1.6 billion was requested for the Refugee and Entrant Assistant program within the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Recovery, repair, storage, and disposal”
Various other items called for hundreds of millions of dollars and were associated to some extent with the plight of Afghan refugees.
Additionally, the proposal sought changes to existing language and waiver authorizations regarding multiple statutes related to the resettlement of Afghans as well as allowances and benefits they would not otherwise be entitled to receive.
The White House requested billions more in funding for the Defense Department, including the reimbursement of $8.6 billion over two years for funds shifted toward the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Another $2.4 billion was sought to cover supplemental military pay along with operations and maintenance costs.
Capping off the proposal was essentially a request for a blank check from Congress to cover the “costs associated with the recovery, repair, storage, and disposal of equipment and supplies” provided to the Afghan military and largely abandoned ahead of the Taliban takeover.
According to CBS News, Democratic leaders in Congress appeared to welcome the request for additional funding with few exceptions and signaled an intent to approve the package. Republicans, on the other hand, were less keen on dishing out even more in federal funds following several trillion dollars already appropriated this year.